By Gav Duthie: Last week I read two articles back to back where I managed to get excited one minute then confused the next. The first read that Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia had agreed terms to fight, the next said Davis 27-0 (25) was fighting Hector Luis Garcia 16-0 (10) in January. As far as tune ups go this is a whopper. Hector Garcia has already upset the applecart as a tune up opponent in defeating Chris Colbert but nobody seems to have learned their lesson.
Davis is taking a huge risk in having this fight before Ryan Garcia. Hector is a world champion now. He proved the Colbert fight was no fluke after dominating Roger Gutierrez 6 months later securing the WBA Super featherweight title. Is this an oversight? Why not just fight Ryan Garcia straight away? Reports suggest that Garcia will also look to take a tune up fight and Maxi Hughes might be his opponent, another risk given Hughes recent form. It’s not the first time a tune up fight has went wrong and it son’t be the last here are 5 of the best examples of stay busy fights going wrong, the repercussions and the likelihood of disaster for Davis or Garcia before they face each-other.
Tune up/Stay Busy
Boxing is boxing, one punch in the face can change destiny, taking a fight lightly can be a disaster. The very notion of calling a fight stay busy or a tune up suggests the main man isn’t taking it seriously. We all want to see Davis v Ryan Garcia so why risk it fighting others. Here are some examples of tune ups going wrong and what it meant for the big one.
Tommy Morrison v Michael Bentt
In 1993 Tommy Morrison was the WBO champion after a superb disciplined performance outboxing George Foreman. He had defended once against Tim Tomashek who accepted the fight at a few hours notice and was tipped for a unification bout against Lennox Lewis (WBC). At the time the WBO wasn’t regarded as a huge title as it was only in its infancy. The Lewis bout was worth millions but Morrison decided to take a tune up against Michael Bentt who was 10-1. Bentt battered him dropping Morrison 3 times on route to a first round victory. Bennt only fought once more after this losing to Herbie Hide. Morrison and Lewis eventually fought in 1995 but after that Lewis had also lost his title to Oliver McCall so the fight was worth a lot less for both men. This was a tune up that was a huge disaster.
Zab Judah v Carlos Baldomir
It was 5 years since the chicken dance incident for Zab Judah against Kostya Tszyu and he had long put it behind him. He had lost once more to Cory Spinks, son of Leon since then but he destroyed Spinks in a rematch and was set to fight Floyd Mayweather in the summer of 2006 after winning the WBC, IBF and WBA world welterweight championships. Before that though he took a stay busy fight against Carlos Baldomir. This was tipped as an easy win for Judah and would have inflicted Baldomir his 10th professional loss. In the contest Judah just couldn’t get to grips with the aggression of Baldomir and he lost a close but unanimous decision.
The promoters decided to go ahead with the Mayweather fight anyway but it wasn’t as big as it should have been. To his credit Judah gave Floyd a lot of problems in the first half of the fight and should have been credited with a knockdown. Floyd timed him in the later rounds and Judah started to fade so Mayweather won a comfortable decision in the end.
Erik Morales v Zaheer Raheem
It seems bizarre thinking back to when Pacquaio first moved up to Super featherweight to challenge Erik Morales. My assessment at the end of it was great fight but Morales was too strong. 130lbs was too high a weight for Pacquaio.considering he won belts up to 154lbs I think I might have been wrong but that night Morales bullied him. It was a great fight so the rematch was inevitable but in hindsight beating Pacquaio was Morales last great night. ‘El Terrible’ was outboxed in a tune up versus the speedy Zaheer Raheem. Raheem showed good head movement and counters and Erik’s timing was off. The rematch still happened with Pacquaio with Norales iron chin finally succumbing in the 10th round. Pacquaio won a 3rd fight as well.
Victor Ortiz v Josesito Lopez
This was a comeback fight for Ortiz. He was one of the sports bigger names and despite losing to Mayweather previously the stoppage was controversial so Ortiz still had a lot of credit in the bank at this point. In winning this fight he would have fought Canelo next. All was going well, up on all 3 scorecards but he didn’t come out for the 10th round. Although winning he was struggling with the pressure of Lopez and clearly didn’t fancy another 3 rounds of it with a broken jaw. Even the referee seemed surprised by him quitting. Lopez called it ‘his Rocky moment’ in reference to Rocky Balboa. He got the Canelo fight after this and although he lost he has made a career off of this win as a high class gatekeeper.
Paulie Malignaggi v Lovemore N’Dou
What a memorable night but not for the reasons one would expect. Malignaggi had trouble all night but not so much with his opponent, it was his ridiculous hair. His dreadlocks were flapping about and he could barely see. Malignaggi had already won against N’Dou less than a year before winning the IBF title at 140 winning every round. This rematch was simply to get Paulie on a Ricky Hatton undercard at Manchester City stadium to build up a fight between Zthe two. N’Dou would be no trouble and it would show off Malignaggi’s skill set. Wrong. N’Dou was much better and the hair just wouldn’t go away. It was on his face more than a prime aggressive Joe Frazier. They tried to tape it in the eighth and eventually Buddy McGirt cut it in the 9th. Malignaggi got the nod to a chorus of boos from the English crowd. It kept the Hatton fight on where Ricky stopped him in the 11th after a dominant display.
In short it is important that Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia don’t disrespect their opponents before their big fights. He tor Luis Garcia is far more than a stay busy or tune up fighter and he will be looking to make a name for himself. Ryan also needs to focus on his next assignment if he takes one because the fans want to see the big one and nothing should derail it. There are so many examples here of taking your eye of the ball and taking an opponent lightly.
Do you have any other examples of tune ups going wrong and do you think Davis v Ryan Garcia will ever actually happen?